By Sarah Dohl, Indivisible’s Chief Campaigns Officer
It’s Sarah, one of Indivisible’s co-founders and Chief Campaigns Officer, and I cannot believe I am writing this, but we have to talk about Trump’s newest plan to… repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yes, again.
Frankly, after July 28, 2017, I never thought I’d have to write those words to you in an email, but here we are. So, let’s get into it.
For old time’s sake, this is going to be a long one — but if you want to skip to the good part and chip in a few bucks to make sure we retake our Democratic trifecta next November and never have to fight to save the ACA again because that sounds absolutely exhausting, click here. Otherwise, keep reading.
What the Hell Did Trump Just Say?
In case you missed it, over the weekend, Donald Trump posted to Truth Social vowing to never give up on the fight to roll back the Affordable Care Act (or, you know, the law that ensures more than 40 million Americans have health insurance coverage and protects millions more with pre-existing conditions).
Aside from deeply stupid political strategy, Trump’s post is — and look, I know this may come as a shock — a big lie. ACA costs aren’t spiraling out of control.
Maybe Donald Trump and congressional Republicans could use a refresher on how this went for them the last time.
How Indivisibles Everywhere Saved the Affordable Care Act (A Refresher)
Republicans learned the hard way in 2017 that messing with the Affordable Care Act was a political disaster. It’s hard to explain the level of constituent pressure and grassroots energy we saw on this fight. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And more importantly, it was unlike anything Republicans in Congress had ever seen.
Let’s review the timeline.
By January 2017, when the new Republican Congress was sworn in, thousands of Indivisible groups were forming nationwide with people ready to fight back against Trump’s agenda. Then, well, all hell broke loose. Constituents (many of you reading this email!) across the country started giving their members of Congress an earful about healthcare.
Then-Representative Dave Brat, a Republican from my district in Virginia, was feeling the heat as early as January of 2017 when he said, “The women are in my grill no matter where I go.” Constituents got a little news grilling bratwurst outside his office and asking him to listen to them and save their healthcare. He didn’t, and he lost his job in 2018.
During the first congressional recess, when members of Congress went home for what would have otherwise been a pretty uneventful constituent work week, they immediately knew this time was different. 1,000 people, including Indivisibles, showed up in Utah at then-Representative Jason Chaffetz’s town hall. Hundreds of people stood outside with signs that promised to defeat him in the next election. He announced his retirement from the House two months later.
But it wasn’t just Utah. It was Tom Cotton’s townhall in deep red Arkansas. It was Rep. Tom Reed’s in western New York. It was Chuck Grassley’s in Iowa. It was Mitch McConnell’s luncheon in Kentucky. It was the crowd of 1,000 who pressed California Rep. Tom McClintock. In Virginia, freshman Rep. Scott Taylor had 800 people inside his first townhall at York High School, with another 200 people standing outside. He also lost his job in 2018.
The pressure was palpable. Everywhere.
By February, we knew it was working. Just a month after Donald Trump took office, Alabama Republican Mo Brooks told a conservative radio host that he didn’t know if Republicans were going to be able to repeal the ACA because of the pressure they were feeling from regular people across the country.
In March, congressional offices reported being swamped with constituent calls 50-to-1 anti-Trumpcare.
In May, Indivisible groups across the country held die-ins at the offices of House Republicans. National news again.
In June, Indivisible group members in Columbus, Ohio, took a bus to Washington and staged a sit-in at then-Senator Rob Portman’s office, reading stories of Ohioans who Trumpcare would hurt (it feels worth noting that Portman didn’t run for reelection).
Over the 2 week recess in July, Indivisible groups held more than 170 events nationwide to pressure their members of Congress (watch the highlight video we created way back then here). They made hundreds of thousands of calls. No Republican Member of Congress could go anywhere without being asked about their position on repealing the ACA and facing constituent anger.
We drove nearly half a million calls to key Senate offices in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Alaska and held countless events, sometimes in the 100-plus-degree Arizona heat.
Then, it paid off.
In the early morning hours of July 28, Senate Republicans finally failed to pass their ACA repeal bill after three Republican senators — Collins, Murkowski, and McCain — who had been the target of absolutely deafening constituent pressure since day one of the new Congress, voted against the effort.
They tried it again after that — and we drove another half-a-million calls and hosted scores of additional events pressuring senators in swing states and telling them to drop it.
On September 26, Lindsay Graham announced they didn’t have the votes.
And on September 30, 2017, at midnight — because of that budget resolution that Senate Republicans had passed in January to make it easier for them to repeal the ACA — Trumpcare was officially dead.
Saving the Affordable Care Act Changed What Was Politically Possible and Just Might Do It Again
But we weren’t finished winning.
In 2018, Democrats won control of the House with a net total of 41 seats. This 41-seat gain was the Democrats’ largest gain of House seats since the post-Watergate 1974 elections and was the first time since 1954 that they flipped a chamber of Congress in a Republican president’s first midterm. As CNN wrote, it wasn’t just a blue wave. It was a tsunami.
So — and I cannot stress this enough — what the hell is Donald Trump thinking?
I won’t pretend to know. But I’ll tell you what Indivisible is thinking.
Trump gave us a political gift on Saturday, and we’re not taking it for granted. Indivisible is going to spend the next year reminding voters about Donald Trump’s plan to take away their healthcare (and institute a national abortion ban and exact revenge on political enemies and build mass deportation camps for immigrants).
While Trump and his MAGA enablers in Congress are focused on their absolutely terrifying “Project 2025,” we will focus on Project 2024: doing the work of knocking doors and getting out the vote to retake our trifecta.
Look, I can’t tell you for sure that we will win, but I can tell you that we’ll leave it all out on the field. To do that, we need the kind of energy and pressure that we pulled off in 2017 when we killed Trumpcare and in 2018 and 2020 when we won huge victories on election day. It’s been a long six-and-a-half years — we know you’re tired — but Trump’s latest Truth Social post should be a wake-up call.
What You Can Do Right Now
For all of our sake, we need to win next November, so we don’t have to fight to save the ACA again. And real talk, we need to have a plan B.
Here’s what you can do to make sure, no matter what, we’re ready:
- Chip in to fund our work in 2024 to elect Democrats up and down the ballot with the same kinds of tools and infrastructure that killed Trumpcare and took back the House in 2018. The truth is that there’s not as much money or energy in the ecosystem as there was in 2020 — we get it — but the stakes are just as high, and our plans are just as big.
- Find your Indivisible group. These are the folks in your community organizing right now to win. These are the same folks who killed TrumpCare the first time we had to. They know what they’re doing and need your help in 2024 and beyond. If there’s no group near you, reply to this email and ask for support in setting one up. Tens of thousands of people did it in January of 2017, and you can too.
- Tell us you’re all in to do the work to win. In a few short weeks, we will start rolling out our plans and turning on tools to hit the ground running in January to support key races across the country. Sign up to be the first to know when we do so that you can do all you can to make sure I don’t have to send an email in 2025 about Republicans’ next plan to take away our healthcare.
If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that we have to take the threat of a Donald Trump presidency, and promises like repealing the ACA, seriously. There’s too much at stake.
No sitting on the sidelines.
P.S. — Even if you can’t give, we’d love for you to forward this email to 5 friends and encourage them to get involved. I also made this into a TikTok video, just in case you want to share it!